Preparing for Holiday Shopping and Gift Finding

I wrote this last year but so many found use of it that I thought I’d share again before Black Friday and Cyber Monday come around. There are going to be a lot of hot deals and the temptation to buy increases. Make sure you only buy what you truly need because a deal is only a deal if it’s useful and fits within your budget:

1) Before you even think of starting your shopping, I recommend making up a Holiday Gift Budget. It is so easy to buy far too much, especially since shopping online only requires a few clicks of a button. Write down everyone you need to buy for and a suggested amount you’d like to spend. Make sure it fits into your overall monthly/yearly budget. If you find that your budget is tight, don’t be afraid to talk to your family/friends to possibly draw names instead of buying for everyone. For several years now, my siblings and I have drawn two kids’ names so we can all spend a little more on just them. We also do a family gift game instead of buying for our siblings.

2) I then recommend that you try to think of an idea for each person and mark it next to their names. Why is this important? Because if you stop and think about what you’d like to get them, when you do find a deal online or in the stores, you can ask yourself, “Is this gift better than what I originally wanted to get them?” It really does help stop impulse buying.

3) Next, do a quick Google search for each gift so you know what the “going price” (retail) is for each item. This will give you a better idea if something is truly a deal when you see it posted or in-store. It will save you time when those “hot” deals pop-up and you don’t want to miss out. They truly do sell-out FAST!

4) Get yourself signed up with the “portals” that give you Cashback. This will save you time when a hot deal is posted and you won’t miss out on it having to sign-up for them. Here are a few I recommend:


Those are the two that I use the most. You’ll get $5 added to your accounts when you sign-up. Never think $1 (or less) isn’t worth taking the minute to go through one of those portals. You’ll be surprised at what it can add up to over the year. Also, I recommend that if you see a deal you might buy, go through the portals first before you jump directly to the site with the deal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to do it later and missed out on my cashback.

5) Sign-up for the photo sites. Last year, there were some *hot* deals and some of them went fast. Most of the sites also offer free prints just for signing up. (Most of the links below do offer free photos.) These prints could be turned into great gifts! Here are some to get you started:


Another idea is to take a little time right now to get your favorite photos saved into one folder on your computer. Then, regardless of which site has a deal, you won’t have to dig for the photos you want to make yours prints. Some of the photo deals are for only 24 hours and you don’t want to miss out searching for your favorite photos.

6) Less is More Philosophy…Make it come from the Heart – Of all the gifts I’ve ever received, it’s the ones that came from the heart that meant the most. So make the gifts count. You could do this also by…

7) Consider Homemade Gifts – The blogosphere is full of amazing homemade holiday gift ideas. And now’s a great time to get started working on them! I’ll be putting up any links to homemade/frugal gifts that I find. (Feel free to send me over your links to these!)

8 ) Search Engines Can Be Your Friend – Before buying something, make sure you do a Google Search on the Product Name. Better yet, search through SwagBucks so you can possibly win SwagBucks for your searches! Even when I thought something was the hottest price, I’ve found it cheaper just by doing a one-minute search to see what other stores were selling it for. Just make sure you figure in tax and shipping for the overall best price. (also, consider store’s return policies!)

For store deals, check ahead to see which stores price-match others’ ads. Target and Walmart are great about this. You might be able to streamline some shopping trips this way.

9) Coupon Code Sites – Check coupon code sites, such as RetailMeNot to see if there’s a discount code to use to get an additional discount. You can typically use these with the portal sites like Ebates and ShopAtHome to get an amazing price and cashback. Another one to look at is

10) List of What You Bought – I know this may sound silly but seriously keep a list of what you’ve already bought. There have been years where a couple gifts I bought got buried in my closet and I ended up buying them twice.

11) And the best tip I can offer is—follow Coupon Geek on Facebook! I’ll be spending a lot of time trying to help you find great deals. Some of them that I know will sell-out fast and will only be posted on the Coupon Geek Facebook Page. Don’t forget that I also do have a Coupon Geek Newletter that goes out daily with all the deals.

Overall, just keep in mind the true meaning of whatever holiday you celebrate. The best gift you can give is yourself–help out others, volunteer at places helping the needy, buy those free food and toiletry items to donate, consider hot toy deals for toy drives and just smile and be friendly spreading around that holiday cheer.

What are some of your tips for great holiday shopping?